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How do I raise an issue in my union?

How can I make myself heard?

How you raise your issue depends on what kind of an issue it is. If you have a problem in your immediate workspace - a bullying manager or a health and safety issue for example - the most appropriate place to raise it is among the members in your immediate area and with your local rep. Issues are usually best addressed and resolved collectively - you will always be listened to more closely if you speak as part of a a group rather than as an individual. Talk to your colleagues, try to get agreement about the problem and then take it to your rep. If you don't have a rep, take it to your branch. But it's always better to have a workplace rep, so think about whether someone from your group might want to take on this role. Maybe you? Or maybe think about job sharing the role of workplace or department rep?

If you think the issue has wider ramifications, you could raise it in your branch. Again, this works far better if it is done by a group. Contact the branch secretary, chair or president and ask them to come and meet your group. Maybe ask to speak at the next branch meeting. Make sure at least one person attends the meeting and better still, try to go as a group. If no one can make it, send a report signed by everyone in your group.

Winning support

If you are trying to win support for your cause, try to think about how to generalise it so that it appeals to as many people as possible. There are always many things that call for the union's attention so give some thought to why people should care about the issue you are raising. Not everyone will know about your specific workplace but they will relate to issues of unfairness and inequality, danger in the workplace or bullying.

It may be that you want to take your issue further and make union policy on it. You can turn your issue into a motion to your local branch or to the union's national Congress. Again, think about why it's important. Why should people care? But also think about what you want the union to do about it. Is it realistic? What real change would make a difference?

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